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Home News and Update Year 2010 Developing World In Grip Of Cancer

Developing World In Grip Of Cancer

Times of India
19 August 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India

Economic Burden Of Disease In 2008 Was Equivalent To 1.5% Of Global GDP
Cancer is no more a rich man’s disease, with almost 80% of the burden across the world being borne by poor and middle–income countries like India. Despite the lopsided figure, only 5% of global resources for cancer are spent in developing countries.

This is the conclusion of a report "Expansion of Cancer Care and Control in Countries of Low and Middle income: A Call to Action" published in the medical journal, The Lancet, by a high–power global expert panel, which included leading lights like Lance Armstrong, Julio Frenk, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, Jeffrey D Sachs, Felicia Knaul, director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative and Lawrence Shulman, chief medical officer at Dana–Farber Cancer Institute.

Dr K Srinath Reddy, director of the Public Health Foundation of India, was also a part of this the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries. According to Dr Reddy and his 19 colleagues, cancer is now a leading cause of death and disability. Cancer’s economic toll was $895 billion in 2008, which is equivalent to 1.5% of the world’s GDP.

WHO had predicted that cancer would overtake heart disease as the leading killer disease. About 7.6 million people died of cancer in 2008, and about 12.4 million new cases are diagnosed each year. In 1970, 15% of newly reported cancers were in developing countries, compared to 56% in 2008. By 2030, it will rise to 70%. Almost twothirds of the 7.6 million deaths every year worldwide occur in low and middle–income countries.

Overall, case fatality from cancer is estimated to be 75% in countries of low income, 72% in countries of low–middle income, 64% in countries of highmiddle income, and 46% in countries of high income. Calling for action against cancer on a war footing, the panel concluded that compelling evidence of the feasibility and effectiveness of comprehensive cancer control merits a renewed global effort to expand cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and palliation in countries of low and middle income, including provision of affordable and reliable drug supplies and vaccines.

"We propose that cancer care and control become rapidly and broadly available as quickly as possible with the focus on cancers that can be prevented or cured, or, for cases in which neither is possible, palliated," the panel observed.

It has proposed three changes. First, simultaneous implementation of large–scale demonstration programmes in the next few years to define and build new infrastructure, train health professionals, harness technology and especially telecommunications to overcome many on–site limitations. Carefully designed studies will enable identification of the most effective measures to alleviate the burden of cancer, and expand the volume of health services in developing countries.

Second, design and implementation of regional and global pricing and procurement mechanisms to offer individual countries the opportunity to participate in collective, multicountry negotiation to secure reduced prices for essential services, drugs and vaccines. Third, identification and implementation of innovative financing mechanisms, which should decisively expand the financial resources available for treating cancer in the developing world.

Spine–Chilling Data
  • About 7.6 million people died of cancer in 2008, and about 12.4 million new cases are diagnosed each year
  • Almost two–thirds of the 7.6 million deaths worldwide occur in low and middle–income countries
  • In 1970, 15% of newly reported cancers were in developing countries, compared to 56% in 2008


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